Concussion Series from Illinois


Saukvalley.com and Christopher Heimerman have been posting a series about concussions recently, legend found HERE.  Recently Heimerman took on the angle of athletic trainers as they relate to the “Hidden Injury”, concussion.  On the jump there is an interview with Sterling High School Athletic Trainer, Andi Sumerfelt seen here;

If you go to YouTube to watch it, it should bring up the series of videos that go along with the stories on saukvalley.com.

There was one column that caught my eye – both personally and professionally – athletic trainers in high schools;

Not having an athletic trainer is forgivable. Refusing to acknowledge the need for one? That’s different.

I sat down with Dixon School District Superintendent Mike Juenger and Athletic Director Jon Empen, hoping for some answers about what life was like after Andi Sumerfelt lost her job, and Dixon lost her free services as athletic trainer.

This is a common theme lately, athletic trainers losing their jobs at hospitals and hospitals no longer providing a service for free.  Schools are either faced with losing the coverage completely or pay for a reduced coverage.  In this column Dixon is trying to figure out a way; but the fact that parents are not even thinking or pushing for the trained healthcare provider to be around makes Heimerman and frankly me wonder where are our priorities.

An athletic trainer who knows the athlete and, better yet, is trusted, can evaluate right there on the sideline.

There’s no substitute for the education and training Accardi and other athletic trainers receive.

They’re finely tuned to assure athletes’ safety. And their degrees don’t come easy. They must pass a three-part exam, including written, oral and simulated portions. How hard is it? Rock Falls athletic trainer Shane Brown admits he needed two tries to pass it.

Empen assured me that, if an official suspects a player might have a concussion, the athlete is removed from the game. But that’s not the official’s job. That onus should not be placed on them, the coaches, the athletes, the parents … you get my point.

Instead, that responsibility should exclusively rest with someone trained to handle it.[…]

Some athletic directors sounded ready to sacrifice a portion of their salary if it meant gaining an athletic trainer. Some almost audibly shrugged their shoulders. It sounded like they’d either given up on the prospect of hiring a trainer or, worse, didn’t see the benefit of finding one.

I’m not unrealistic. I know it took certain stars aligning for Sterling to land Sumerfelt. She was able to slide into the attendance secretary position, and her athletic trainer pay – raised by the Sterling Booster Club, ahem – was tacked onto that position’s salary. Similarly, Accardi teaches a handful of classes.

Whether the school is lucky to have full-time AT services from a local hospital, or they can figure out a way to employ an AT using some “outside the box” thinking – see case above – the schools NEED athletic trainers.  As with everything it all comes down to the bottom line.  Take for example another Illinois hospital having to rethink their approach with athletic training contracts, not only did they run into a hard spot and have to end service with an athletic trainer, but they also had to end a contract with a school.  There is nothing worse than knowingly taking away the “gold standard” of care for student-athletes.  I take that back, not fully grasping the fact that these trained professionals are needed is a crime as well.

People can meet in the middle if they feel that something is worth while, and, athletic trainers are definitely worth while.

 

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